The historical Everglades stretched from Orlando to the Florida Keys. Water from the Kissimmee River flowed south into shallow Lake Okeechobee. During the wet season, Lake Okeechobee overflowed, forming the slow-moving river of grass that extends to Florida Bay.
The Everglades Today
Over 50 % of the historical Everglades has been lost in the last century as a result of being drained and replaced with urban areas and farms. Lake Okeechobee is now connected to the estuaries by means of the Caloosahatchee and St Lucie Rivers.
As a result, the rivers’ fragile estuarine ecosystems receive highly damaging water from the Lake. The remaining Everglades protection area, a compartmentalized ecosystem receiving polluted runoff from the farming areas south of Lake Okeechobee, is threatened; shifts in the natural flora and fauna have been observed.
Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP)
The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan provides guidelines to restore the water resources of central and southern Florida. The plan includes more than 60 major components that aim to restore the ecosystem, while providing flood protection and ensuring water supplies.
Restoration of the greater Everglades ecosystem is essential to securing a clean water supply. Our restoration priorities illustrated on this map from North to South are:
(Top left) The Kissimmee River restoration project will restore sections of the river and its floodplain that were previously drained and channelized, providing great benefits to wildlife.
(Top right) Building additional Stormwater Treatment Areas and Flow Equalization Basins in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) is essential to restoring the central Everglades.
(Bottom left) The Picayune strand restoration project will re-establish wildlife corridors, while restoring the water quality and quantity.
(Mid-right) Tamiami Bridge will restore the natural water flow and cycle to the Everglades, improving ecosystem conditions.
(Bottom right) The C-111 spreader canal will allow for the right quantity of water and timing of its distribution to benefit Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.